Confessing our national guilt

aboriginal-childrenMay 26 is National Sorry Day in Australia, a national attempt to heal the wounds of the century-long practice of forcibly removing mixed-race children from their Aboriginal mothers. This government policy, which was carried out for about 100 years from 1860 to modern times, is known to have separated more than 100,000 children from their birth families and placed them in government-run institutions. Children brought into such facilities as the Moore River Native Settlement were required to give up their native language and beliefs in an attempt to bring out their allegedly superior white genetic capabilities.

As Australia became more heavily colonized and white Australians pushed the Aborigines away from white settlements, the state governments created programs for the management of the Aboriginal peoples. Frequent contact between the two populations resulted in mixed-race children, some of whom were rejected by Aboriginal communities.

This led to a diverse set of policies in which such “half-caste” children were identified and taken from their families, often with no attempt to document where the children came from. They became popularly-known as the stolen generation, a term that is still quite controversial in Australia, as many hold to the belief that these children were being rescued from dire circumstances.

These government polices, however, were being driven by the social theories of the time, many of which held that whites were intrinsically superior to blacks, and that the Aboriginal communities would eventually die out completely because of their inability to adapt to modernity.

Stealing mixed-race children, therefore, came to be seen as an act of enlightened compassion by white society.

Nations are capable of horrific sin. America’s national acceptance of slavery, followed by more than 100 years of institutional racial segregation, is at least as great a sin as Australia’s actions towards its Aborigines, or Germany’s Holocaust, or the modern-day genocide still taking place in Darfur.

This same false compassion that justified Australians as they ripped families apart is our favorite American justification for the forcible removal of living fetuses from their mothers’ wombs. Under the guise of global compassion, our present administration is exporting this sin around the world, euphemistically calling it family planning. It is ironic that a black president would be a champion of this blatantly racist program to reduce the size of families in Africa, and in America’s inner cities.

Perhaps America, too, will one day be moved to contrition for the tens of millions of children who were never allowed to marvel at the sunrise or find their rightful place in God’s creation. We are presently in the vice-like grip of a national refusal to acknowledge the sanctity of life. I fear it will be a long, long time before America recognizes the callous and sinful arrogance we have practiced towards the unborn.

Photo credit: Benjamin John Doman

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  1. Having just watched “Rabbit-Proof Fence”, a movie made in 2002 about this very subject, I was truly moved by your recent blog on “Confessing our National Guilt”. I cannot comprehend the unthinkable pain and suffering humans impose on the weak and helpless. Doesn’t seem to matter if the country is supposedly civilized or not.